The Israeli government announced on Sunday it would be transferring 5,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine to Palestinians to immunize frontline health care workers, The Associated Press reports.
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s office made the announcement, the AP noted, adding that the statement marked the first official confirmation of a transfer. No schedule for when the transfer would occur was released, according to the news service.
Palestinian officials have stated their government does not have the funds to buy enough vaccines for its population. The AP notes that the Palestinian Authority is attempting to acquire doses through the World Health Organization’s (WHO) COVAX program, which seeks to provide doses to countries in need. However, the program has reportedly been slow to start distribution.
Israel has excelled in vaccinating its population thus far, but has withheld vaccines from those living under the Palestinian Authority. Israel has previously acknowledged that it would be in its own interest to provide vaccines to the Palestinians, given their close proximity, but officials had stated they would not provide any doses until their own population was inoculated.
Many world health leaders have called out the inequity in global vaccine distribution, with wealthier nations pre-purchashing more than enough doses to immunize their populations while some poorer countries have received almost none.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus lambasted vaccine manufacturers earlier in January, accusing them of prioritizing profits by concentrating their approval efforts on richer nations. He noted during WHO’s executive board meeting that one poorer country, Guinea, had only received 25 doses.